Winner of TOI WriteIndia Season 1, Ruchi Singh is a novelist, and writes in two genres; romance and romantic thriller. A voracious reader, she loves everything—from classics to memoirs to editorials to chick-lit, but her favourite genre is ‘romantic thriller’. Besides writing and reading, her other interests include dabbling with Indian classical dance forms.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
It happened by chance in 2013, when friends and family suggested I should write. It was like an epiphany that yes I can, and should write. Since I am very fond of novels, so I began with a novel. I immensely enjoyed writing Take 2, the joy in creating something new is quite potent. And when I won the Indireads Short Story competition in Oct 2014, I knew I will become a fiction novelist. Recently winning the TOI WriteIndia contest was an awesome experience and added motivation.
What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
I don’t have any unique muse per se. I think I can safely say that my muse changes with each book that I write because my characters become my muse(s). My characters inspire and take me forward as the story progresses.
How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
‘Guardian Angel’ is a spin-off from ‘The Bodyguard’ and can be read as a standalone book. It features Nikhil Mahajan, who is an important character in ‘The Bodyguard’, as the main protagonist. He is injured in a bomb blast and lands up in the villain’s clutches in a case of mistaken identity.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
I write in the morning when people at home have gone to their respective school and office. The house is relatively quiet with essential daily chores out of the way, I love that time of the day. I love the corner near the window, which throws lots of natural light in the room.
There is no fixed pattern to the day. When I am writing the first draft I mostly write every day, but if the writing spree is interrupted it becomes difficult to start again. But it’s a good idea to write daily.
My weird habit: I can’t move ahead until all the colourful wriggly lines (the MS editor throws) are resolved in the paragraph/ line that I have written. My friends tell me to switch off the editor, but my conscious doesn’t allow me to.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Yes, I do. Though I object to the term ‘writer’s block’. It should be called something like else because block gives it a connotation of something external which is blocking the writer’s mind. But it’s not so. It’s our own mind and habits which lead to a break in writing. Creative people can’t be creative all the time, so they need a break. But be careful, too long a break leads to laziness and procrastination, then it becomes difficult to get into the groove again.
The ritual that I believe in, which I too find difficult to follow at times, is to write every day at the same time even if one writes only 200 - 300 words.
What are your current/future projects?
I am writing an emotional romance which is again set in Kasauli, the backdrop of my second novel Jugnu. I’m also planning and plotting a detective series, which is at a very nascent stage. There are lots of ideas floating in my mind, but very less time.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Yes, I do. I read all of them. The best way to approach the reviews is with a dispassionate mind and look for pointers where one can improve. Do not get swayed with a very positive one and do not get de-motivated with a bad one. Its okay, not everyone is going to like your book/work, so treat a bad review as a mismatch between the book and the reader.
What is the easiest/hardest scene for you to write, why? (Love, action, fight, death, racy, controversial, etc…)
Specialized scenes like fighting or love scenes, and scenes where the characters are in pain, are harder to write. Fighting ones because one needs to convey the action, love scenes have to be aesthetically appealing. I find writing dialogues the easiest.
Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I have been a voracious reader since the time I can remember. It all started with Nancy Drew series and then to Mario Puzo, Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum, and John Grisham. So all the foundation stones had thriller written on them. Romance came with teenage and college friends. If you notice most of the thrillers dwell a little on the emotional story of the protagonist, so romance adds that little spice to make the characters more realistic and the story more enjoyable.
What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Editing by the author is done in four ways;
While writing, one constantly edits - This is done by everyone.
Take a printout and edit - This is a very effective way to find out the errors
Speak out loud - This tells you awkward sentence structures.
Read it on a different format, e.g. if you are writing in MS Word, make a PDF file with large fonts and then read it.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
It is not a field for impatient. Be prepared for a long haul.
Security expert Nikhil Mahajan is in mortal danger. Gravely injured and unable to see, he is in the midst of hostile strangers in an unknown place. Any hope of survival is fast fading away.
Should an innocent man be left to die just because he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Someone has to intervene.
Thank you, Ruchi for this amazing interview! I wish you success for all your future works. Keep writing!